I’ve always loved Brigitte Bardot. I’ve watched as many of her movies as I could find, and have read several books on her, and I knew I loved her ’cause I could relate to her and understand her (similarly de Sade and Hans Christian Andersen). I mean isn’t it obvious how much we are alike, Bardot and I? Apart of course from her being rich, powerful, influential, successful, social, and sexy… I mean apart from all that we’re a lot alike. Yeah… uhm… we both wear heavy black eyeliner… that’s something, isn’t it?
I know she was neurotic, temperamental, highly emotional, had a propensity for going barefoot in public… oh and was bat-shit crazy, too. So I guess we do have more in common than black eyeliner. All joking aside about our obvious (and unfairly in her favor) differences, I do relate to her, and I think primarily in that the things she says that many people find annoying, silly or incomprehensible, are the very things I relate to most and understand all too well.
But before I get specific, let’s take a moment to put her into perspective. Keep this in mind when considering Bardot, prior to Bardot sex symbols were in large part artifice, almost character actors, see Mansfield and Monroe. Bardot was different, she was raw, real, uncompromisingly herself. If she was the fantasy of every man and the envy of every woman, it was not an act people were relating to, but something far more powerful, it was BARDOT people were fascinated by, the real deal. It was even said, and somewhat often, that she didn’t act, she existed (though I believe Vadim coined that phrase). Keep in mind also that she was the sexual predator, NOT the prey, and THIS was revolutionary, so much so that even Simone De Beauvoir wrote about her. So with her revolutionary status in perspective, let’s get personal.
I’ve had this unread biography of hers (“Bardot – Eternal Sex Goddess” by Peter Evans) sitting about in my collection for years. The other day I realized that I would finally like to read it. It’s been great, surprisingly understanding and full of insights rather than judgments. More importantly there are tons of great quotes. And it was in these quotes that I’ve started to really see why I relate to her on so many levels, and I’d like to share a few of them.
For example, Brigitte Bardot had this to say when discussing fear of being dead and forgotten:
“Being forgotten I don’t worry about, everybody is forgotten eventually, the grandest moments are dust in the end. But dying is horrible. There should be another way to end something as beautiful as life. I don’t know what is going to happen to me next week, tomorrow, not even tonight. But I do know for certain that I must die some day and the future is death. That frightens me a lot.”
It was a comfort to read of Bardot’s very real and very honest fear of death, as I too, for a long time now, have had an unnatural, consuming, and haunting fear of death. Though it seems to have lessened for me now as I am finally living my life. All the same, her articulation of the fear chilled me, especially “That frightens me a lot.” Me too. See, I didn’t always fear death, no, I was a fundamentalist Christian and just knew I was gonna go to heaven. Well, when I was realizing that Christianity was causing me far more pain than comfort, I was also entirely losing faith, and this left me with a hollow fear of death that could sometimes paralyze me. Trouble is, I just couldn’t fake that I believed in the Bible no matter how much easier it would have been. Fortunately, after years of soullessness I found Lord Shiva.
But wait, there’s more! Though I spend so much time alone, her thoughts on being alone moved me, and while I think I prefer being alone, the substance of her thoughts around it hit home.
“I hate to be alone. I get very anxious when I’m alone. Solitude scares me. It makes me think very strangely. I get anxious about life and death and war… I don’t want to think so much. That’s why I am always with good friends. I need distraction from the anxious thoughts, the black thoughts.”
Black thoughts indeed.
The quote below is not from Bardot, but from the author. Listen to this lovely description of her life:
“Brigitte had managed to close down her social life to almost hermetical proportions by film star standards. When not working she lived mostly within the walls of La Madrague, or on her remote and rambling farm near Bazoches forty-five miles outside Paris, going barefoot, in jeans, listening to records (including interminable Bach), reading, playing the guitar, swimming, fussing over her pets for hours. Even the most intimate houseguests–and she was never without someone close by she could completely rely on–couldn’t be sure of their welcome from day to day, even from hour to hour.”
Much of this I find very familiar, other parts of it not so much, but a solid chunk of it hits home very directly: Barefoot, jeans, playing guitar, and for me, having one person I rely on in my life and very close by. And though I do not live in La Madrague, I do live a solitary life down a dirt road in a lovely room on a lake with a beautiful view of the forest and animals that I truly love to have as neighbors. Though I don’t swim in the nude, as Bardot did on her lake, I do spend a lot of time floating around topless on a kayak napping and listening to the birds.
Moreso, Roger Vadim (her first husband and director of “And God Created Woman”) had this to say about Brigitte:
“Brigitte’s real trouble is that she doesn’t really like people. She is like a selfish child living in a nursery world of her own creation. She cannot accept she is part of a larger society.”
Does that ever sound familiar.
I suppose if I have learned anything from Bardot and her remarkable candor (and I have learned many things), it’s that this is my nursery world, and I may want what I want, and and I may feel what I feel.
When I grow up, I want to be Brigitte Bardot, though it would seem neither of us are in a hurry to grow up. And in that way, I can most definitely relate to her.
Nice post Justine, very interesting.